Sunday, February 19, 2006

Eating Apples is bad for your health

One thing I enjoy about the Internet is the chance to discuss differing beliefs with differing individuals. Often we can get stuck in our own rut, talking to only those that agree with our position—this gives us a chance to “stretch our mental legs” as it were.

As a debate was raging elsewhere, a thought struck me that I hadn’t considered before: Can God make a law He can’t break?

We have all seen the conundrum of, “Can God make a rock He can’t lift?” Which demonstrates nicely that we need to limit the description of a God, at least to the logical realm, or otherwise it will simply degrade into meaningless babble. And our debates can revolve around whether God is limited by His own nature, morally, or by some external determination of morals, but can God self-limit Himself to forever bind Himself, thus creating a new moral?

We seem to agree that in the normal sense, God voluntarily limits Himself to the laws of Nature. The Earth revolves around the sun at a certain amount of time. Not a new time every year as determined by God. Gravity attracts at a certain rate. The tides can be measured.

We also seem to agree that if there was a God that interacted with the natural world, it could set aside those natural laws, and remove the limit He has placed on Himself. We even have a name for those instances—“miracles.” The problem comes in, is to determine where morals fall. Are they inherent within God, like logic, that cannot be extracted, or are they like the laws of nature, that God normally limits Himself, but can, on occasion, breach by His choosing?

The reason this even crossed my mind was thinking on the Adam and Eve story, with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We all know the story, God creates a Garden, places a tree in it, and tells Adam and Eve to not eat the fruit of the tree. As near as the simplistic story tells us, there was only one moral in the Garden, that is to Not eat the Fruit. It came to me: “Could God have eaten the fruit?”

Moral. Let’s assume that God could eat the Fruit. As we see from the story, eating the fruit would not have given God any more knowledge than He already had. The breach of morality could be disobedience to God, not the actual eating of the fruit.

Under this scenario. God could have arbitrarily picked anything—“Don’t pet the tiger,”-- and that would become the immoral act. God could pet the tiger, humans could not. The tree itself, being named “Knowledge of Good and Evil” means nothing. Could have been an average apple tree.

This raises interesting questions, though as to what is “moral” and what is not. If it is moral for God, can it be immoral for us? That would arguably mean that all things that are immoral for us could be moral for God. He simple arbitrarily picked a few items out that He is most certainly allowed to do, but we cannot.

But then should we attempt to imitate God? Should we research an determine what His morals are, and emulate them, or do we accept what other humans say God says we can or cannot do, and accept that?

This also brings into question whether God is being arbitrary. By what method could we possibly determine He is using to pick what is moral/immoral for us to do? Is it our conscience? Is it societal determination? Further, God could easily, using His whim, make something moral today and immoral tomorrow.

Assume, A is moral to God. Whether A is murder or eating ice cream doesn’t matter. Under this scenario, God can tell humans that A is immoral to humans. But since it is actually moral, the very next day, God can say A is moral, and that, too, would be correct. The next, A is now immoral, and so on.

The only determinative as to what is moral/immoral is that the same action may be disobedient to God one day, but obedient to God the next. Which causes some concern. God can’t disobey God. Even if, on Monday, God says, “A is wrong. It will always be wrong. No body, not even me, can do A,” on Tuesday, God can say, “New Rule. Now A is O.K. for me to do, and not anyone else.” God can change in an instant, and never disobey God.

For all you moral realists, this is a bit of problem because it vests morality in a God that can change its mind with no retribution. Saying Eating the Fruit was Moral for God, but Immoral for us, leaves us with the complete inability to determine what is actually moral, and what God is just ordering.

Immoral Assuming God could not eat the fruit. Think this through. God is the determination of morality. He creates a situation that He knows he cannot violate. It is in a tree that He created. It is an action that he created. (No tree==no choice=no immorality.)

This makes God the creator of immorality. Even for Himself. On what basis, other than whim, is it created? Prior to creation, no immorality. At creation, He makes a tree. Nothing inherent in the tree itself (in fact, to God, it would simply impart knowledge he already has.) Then God says, “No can eat. Not even me.” At this point, the possibility of immorality comes into existence. Prior to that second, no such immoral act could possibly exist. Only after that second does the possibility of immorality exist.

But if God can create immorality, equally, it would seem, He could create morality. Which would mean that, just like the previous problem the next instant He could “undo” His statement, and remove the immorality from eating the tree.

Non-moral Perhaps it would make no difference for God to eat the fruit or not. This still leaves us with the problem of something that is immoral for humans is non-moral for God. He can make a non-moral action to be immoral (or moral, frankly.) What other non-moral actions has He made moral/immoral?

We are left in an interesting pickle. We have no clue whether eating the fruit is moral/immoral/non-moral to God. Any of the options leaves us with the problem of whether we should be following the same moral dictates of the God (which we cannot determine) or we should be following what God says, whether ultimately it is moral or not.

Let’s look at real life. We, as humans, find genocide detestable. If there is anything that most seem to agree is “evil” it is this act. Assume that in some way, some how, you learn that it is immoral to commit genocide. “Over God’s head” as it were, written in whatever stone absolute morality is written.

A human comes to you and says, “God told me to tell you to commit genocide.” On this, you could scoff and say, “Ha! I happen to know that genocide is immoral. Therefore I will not commit it.” But this generates a concern. If God can determine a moral act is immoral, can He not equally determine an immoral act is moral? Why would it only be a one-way street? The person could respond, “But you believe morality is vested in God’s nature. That is your absolute morality. And God specifically informed me that it has now changed—it is now moral.” Couldn’t it be?

If it was immoral for the humans to eat of that tree, and non-moral or moral for God, then God arbitrarily determines morality. If it was immoral for both, then God created immorality by creating a choice. Either way, it is God that is determining immorality on an unknown, unverified, and completely uncertain system.

Which should gives us an extreme humility in imposing morality on others, based upon a God that refuses to reveal what is really moral or not.

6 comments:

  1. Dagoods,

    I have a whole lot of things to say about this post, but I'm afraid it would require more writing that I'm willing to do to say it all. So I'm just going to pick out a couple of points.

    First, one of the problems you raise is the question of whether something can be right for God but wrong for us. I don't see this as a problem. Consider our own circumstances. Parents tell their children not to punish each other. Or they'll tell their children not to drive the car. But then the parents do the very thing they tell their children not to do. But do we consider that a problem? Of course not! The parents, as parents, have different perogatives than their children. That is true of any kind of heirarchy of authority. It's true of God, too.

    Second, if God allows something one day but forbids it another, I don't think this is necessarily any indication that morality has changed. (Haven't we talked about this before?) Recall my analogy of about a man both allowing and forbidding his son to take medicine. The same standard of goodness was behind both. That standard of goodness was the man's love for his son. He allowed him to take medicine at one time because it would help him. He forbad him to take medicine at another time because taking the medicine at that time would harm him. In both cases, the same principle applied, but it applied in different ways because of the different circumstances.

    In the same way, God has a particular character that drives his behavior. It may cause him to allow eating shrimp at one time but not allow it at another time. This is no indication that morality has changed. If God forbids eating shrimp, then it's wrong for a person under that command to eat shrimp. But that isn't because there's something intrinsically wrong with eating shrimp. It's because it's wrong to disobey God, and God has a good reason for forbidding shrimp eating. The moral imperative "Obey God," remains the same in both situations.

    There are two ways, I think, we can find out what God requires of us. First, we can rely on our conscience combined with reason. Let me explain that a little. Most things we consider wrong are wrong for a reason. For example, we might say it's wrong to punch somebody in the nose. But there's a reason it's wrong to punch somebody in the nose. It's because it's wrong to harm somebody needlessly. So you could form this argument:

    1. It's wrong to harm somebody needlessly.
    2. Punching somebody in the nose harms somebody needlessly.
    3. Therefore, it's wrong to punch somebody in the nose.

    One reason different people have different ideas of what's right and what's wrong is because even if we all have the same moral intuitions, we don't all reason the same. Most of us, at one time or another, make mistakes in our thinking about morals.

    The second way we can discover what God requires of us is through some kind of revelation. If you believe the Bible is God-breathed, then it can be used as a source of authority on God's requirements. But this, too, requires reasoning. Since people make mistakes in exegesis and in thinking, they also arrive at different conclusions about God's requirements.

    A third question you raised is whether God can disobey himself. Well, I don't think God is under any command at all. God simply does whatever he wants to do, and what he wants to do is dictated by his character. His character is behind everything God does, including what he commands of us.

    Sam

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  2. Sam, I hope I am not keeping you from blogging! :)

    Could God have eaten from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? I think you are saying God gets to live by different rules than we do, so yes. One problem with your analogies—I don’t tell my children to imitate me. God tells us to imitate Him. Right? 1 Cor. 11:1, Eph. 5:1, 3 John. 1:11, Lev. 11:45, Lev. 19:2, Lev. 20:26, 1 Pet. 1:15-16.

    If, as you say, God is dictated by His character, then we, as well, must be dictated by His character. (Is God’s character a subset of God?) BUT, you indicate that God can filter out His character, and what God is limited in, as being moral, He can pass on to us as being immoral. Therefore God, despite whatever His character is saying, is passing judgment on what is moral or immoral for humans.

    Can we imitate that?

    Medicine example. What was the “sickness” that forbade the Canaanites from eating rabbits? What is the current “sickness” that forbids women from wearing gold?

    But let me use your analogy (if you would be so kind) to clarify my point on this blog entry. It is moral for the father to take medicine. Healthyl, sick, makes no difference. Anywhere, anytime, the father can take medicine. Further, the father has informed the child that he (the dad) is the very basis of the way in which medicine is dispensed. Without Dad, there would be no medicine. Dad made both the sickness and the medicine.

    Dad also tells the child to imitate the father. Do exactly as the father does, as that is what is required in the world of medicine. In fact, part of the problem the child has is that the child [b]does NOT[/b] always imitate the father. That is called, “sin.” And then, one day, the father says, “even though it is acceptable, right and good for me to take this medicine—you cannot.” When the child asks, “Why?” the only response is, “Because I am the father.”

    This necessarily makes the father determinative of when one can have medicine. Which makes medicine distribution arbitrary, based on the whim of the father. Fair enough. But how does the child then decide when to imitate the father, and when to not?

    If it is morally acceptable to dictate morals, can we?

    If God can do whatever God wants to do, them “absolute morals” are founded in a “relative” entity, thus becoming relative.

    Sam, consciences change based upon societies, culture, history, knowledge, and environment. Isn’t it funny that at a time it was acceptable to marry 12 year old girls, and have more than one wife, we figured out, through our conscience, that God required us to have 12 year old wives and more than one. And when we had slavery, God’s requirements included slavery. When we became averse to the institution of slavery, God’s requirements changed as well. Throughout the course of history, God’s requirements, as dictated through conscience, remarkably track with society’s actions.

    Revelation? This is even MORE tricky. You freely admit that God can change, according to his nature, in His relationship to humans.

    Your neighbor, Bob says, “God told me to tell you we are going on a genocidal killing spree.” Is this revelation or not? God has ordered it in the past. And it would have been immoral for a soldier in Joshua’s army to disobey his leader’s commands, true? It would be disobedient to God. The soldier didn’t hear the command. Joshua didn’t even hear the command. Moses was the only one that heard this command.

    You can’t rely upon special revelation being closed. God is not limited in that way (and if He was, he could change.) In fact, it may be the very start of the end times as foretold in the Apocalypse of John.

    Evil is necessary, and you cannot possibly envision anything God doing as being immoral. By what parameters do you chose to disobey God by not following Bob’s directive?

    You see, like it or not, you too are a pragmatic moral relativist. Thank goodness, you use your own reason, conscience, upbringing, study and knowledge to make moral decisions. How do I know this? Because Christians themselves display aversion to the things they see God ordered. They are using their own morality to determine what is correct or not.

    If Bob, the neighbor, said, “God told me we need to go help a family in need,” you wouldn’t question it, would you? Oh, you may think it was more of an “inner voice” revelation, or a leading of the Holy Spirit, but you wouldn’t have any problem following the direction. Bob telling you to go on a killing spree, your morality kicks in and you say, “Wait a minute. I don’t think that was revelation.”

    God ordered both. We have history of that. You are, theologically, in no position to “disobey God” because that is an absolute. Pragmatically, you reason that it must not have come from God in the first place, and therefore desist. Why couldn’t Joshua’s army have done the same?

    Believing a book is God-breathed (whatever that means) does not mean it is. Plenty of books out there that people think are God-breathed, and you do not.

    Sam, if there is a “greater” morality that God is bound by, wherein He can limit us—is lying moral or not? Could God not be bound by truth in our relationship to Him, but mandate that we are?

    Given that eating fruit was moral for him, but immoral for us, how could you ever possibly determine what morals God is bound by? (pssst. What if He is lying about our having to obey Him? That this is not the standard?)

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  3. LOL...I think the two of you keep the rest of us from blogging! *big grin*

    I mean, who needs to blog anymore? We can just read what you guys have to say. *great big grin*

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  4. Zoe, that's the last thing I want to do!

    Dagoods, you aren't keeping me from blogging. On the contrary, you've given me some ideas. I just lack the time and motivation to put those ideas into writing lately.

    Awesome, your approach to my first argument! I made an analogy between a man and his son on the one hand and God and everybody else on the other hand. The analogy was meant to illustrate the point that whenever there is some kind of heirarchy, the one at the top has perogatives that the one on the bottom doesn't have. My argument only works if the two scenarios really are analogous.

    So your approach was to show that they are not analogous. That's awesome! That's exactly how you should've responded. So now my job is to show that they are analogous after all in spite of what you said.

    To show that they are not analogous, you pointed out a relevent difference. The difference is that a father does not tell his son to immitate him, whereas God does tell us to imitate him.

    There are two reasons I think your argument fails. First, parents typically do (or should) tell their children to immitate them. That's the whole purpose behind being a role model. Parents should be the kind of people they hope their children will grow up to be, because children inevitably pick up their parent's habits anyway. Parents ought to be upstanding people and then tell their children to follow their example.

    Second, neither God nor parents ever mean that you should immitate them in ever single way. In fact, the Bible tells us specific areas in which we are not to immitate God. For example, we are not to take revenge, because vengence belongs to God (Romans 12:19).

    I'm not going to go through all the scriptures you cited, but let's just use one as an example. in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul said to the Corinthians that they should immitate him just as he immitates Christ. Do you think Paul meant that they should all become itinerant preachers? Should they all become tent makers? Should they all go around claiming to be apostles? Should they all excercise authority over the other churches? Of course not. Common sense dictates that when somebody wants you to immitate them, they don't mean that you should immitate them in every single way.

    Now, about the medicine analogy. Here, I think you simply misunderstand the analogy, because your efforts to show that my analogy don't apply focus on irrelevent points. The medicine uses "sickness" as an element, and then you notice no "sickness" in forbidding people to eat rabbits, so you think the two scenarios are not analogous. But all sickness is meant to stand for is some justification for allowing something in one case and forbidding it in another. The analogy is meant to illustrate the point that just because somebody changes the rules, that doesn't mean there's a change in morality. The change could be consistent with morality remaining the same, because the change could be the result of several other non-moral causes. I think my analogy illustrates that quite well.

    You further skew the analogy by misidentifying the moral principle being applied in both the allowing and the forbidding, and also the object of immitation. The principle isn't the morality of immorality of taking medicine in and of itself. The principle is the father's love for the son. And when the father wants the son to immitate him, he doesn't mean to take medicine if the father takes medicine and not to medicine when the father doesn't. Rather, he means the son should love just as the father loves. That love plays out in different ways under different circumstances.

    If God can do whatever God wants to do, them “absolute morals” are founded in a “relative” entity, thus becoming relative.

    You'll have to explain that one to me.

    This conversation of morality regarding conscience, polygamy, slavery, etc., is going to take us in a different direction, so instead of responding to all of that, I would just recommend reading First Things by Hadley Arkes. Arkes gives several reasons for why it seems that there are different moralities from place to place and time to time, and yet we all know right from wrong. So far, I have only given you one reason--because we all make mistakes in reasoning, even when we begin with the same moral principles. You didn't respond to that.

    I agree that revelation is tricky. The Bible even acknowledges this and gives us several ways to distinguish true prophets from false prophets. Paul admonishes us to test everything. So I agree it's tricky.

    If Bob told me that God said we should help the needy, it wouldn't matter to me whether God said that to him or not. I know already that I should help the needy. But if Bob told me that God said I should go on a killing spree, the burden would be on Bob to justify his claim, and I would be skeptical until he did.

    I think this same principle should apply to Joshua and his army. If somebody tells you something really weird, you should doubt them unless you have good reason to think they're telling the truth. But even if many of the soldiers had their doubts (as I'm sure they did), hardly any country has ever allowed selective conscientious objection. Soldiers have to go to war when they are called, whether they agree with the cause or not. I think the leadership carries more responsibility in those situations.

    Believing a book is God-breathed (whatever that means) does not mean it is.

    That's a rather banal point, Dagoods. Is there any particular reason you brought this to my attention? Does it advance some argument that I'm not seeing? Does it call into question some argument that I've made?

    Given that eating fruit was moral for him, but immoral for us, how could you ever possibly determine what morals God is bound by?

    God is bound by his character, and his character is revealed in the Bible.

    What if He is lying about our having to obey Him?

    That is quite impossible. If the Christian God exists, then God is the highest being in the universe, and therefore has authority over us. If he has authority over us, then we are obligated to obey him. If he is lying about anything, then he's only lying about the consequences of obeying or not obeying him.

    But what good do these hypothetical possibilities do for us? What argument do they advance? What point do they further? Lots of crazy things are possible, but just because they're possible, that doesn't mean we have any good reason to think they're actual.

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  5. Sam, I understand that analogies are exactly that—analogies. That, almost by definition, they never fit exactly the concept one is trying to portray. Generally, I try and understand the concept behind what a person is saying, rather than bash the analogy.

    This sickness/medicine analogy, though, continues to elude me, in that it adds an extremely necessary condition to make your point. A condition that you then abandon when making your argument about God. Maybe another go-around to see if I can clarify. (By the by, since we keep having this same discussion, I assume that I am not being clear, not that you are being obtuse.)

    On Monday, the father gives a sick child medicine. On Tuesday, the father refuses to provide the healthy child medicine. Two different days, two completely different actions. We see the conditional event—namely “sickness”—that is the condition upon which the action changed. Sick on Monday—appropriate to deliver medicine. Sick on Tuesday—not appropriate to deliver medicine.

    Now looking at God. Imposes a law on Monday. Imposes a complete different law on Tuesday. Your analogy is that “something” can change so that God (just like the father) is still being loving, but the law has changed. The problem comes in, that you freely admit we cannot determine what that “something” is.

    In your analogy, we see a very specific, empirical, observable difference—sickness. In the actuality, you blur that by saying, it is neither empirical, observerable or specific, but must be “something” that caused the change in God’s law. This is more problematic for me, as we can no longer verify as to what the change is that mandated God to change His law. The analogy—sick to well—the reality you propose: something to something. God is not even clear as to the change, when it occurred or why. (Note, the food laws apparently were revoked prior to Jesus’ death.) This makes the analogy incomplete.

    Even with that, I see the point of a God changing the law, on conditions we cannot determine. Where it starts to fall apart, with me, is the claim that God’s morality is absolute. (I see the political correct term is “moral realist” so I will use that instead of “absolute.”) Morally real would mandate that what is moral on Monday, is moral on Tuesday, is moral on Wednesday. It is moral for fathers, mothers, children, everybody, everywhere, everyhow.

    Again, I understand that you are removing the concept one step further by claiming the “morally real” thing to do is obey God. It is not the taking or non-taking of medicine. It is following the order of a God. BUT, if that was true, then the child being sick or not wouldn’t make a difference, would it? The “something” to occur is no longer necessary. The only mandate the child has (healthy, sick or otherwise) is to obey the father. The child can hope that the father has good intentions in the providing of medicine or not, but that is not the child’s duty. The child is but to do or die, not to ask the reason why (to coin a phrase.)

    There is where I see the analogy break down. You give a nice story, but then in comparing to what you claim is reality, you say, “instead of sickness we have an ‘unknown something’” and instead of the child taking it for the welfare of the child, the child must take it simply to obey the father. In other words, you give a good analogy, but when applying it to what you claim, you abandon the very elements of the analogy.

    I always find it interesting that I use Biblical examples, and Christians use analogies. Let us use, in our sense of morality, an actual Biblical example. Prior to Christ, it was acceptable for women to wear gold. They were even required to take it from those victims of their genocide. However, at some unknown time, and for reasons that are unclear, God decrees that women must no longer wear gold. (1 Tim. 2:9)

    The point of your analogy (as I understand it) is that “something” changed, but the overall premise is God loves us, has a valid reason for the change, and ours is but to obey God. Morality hasn’t changed; (“obey God”) unknown circumstances have.

    Sorry, Sam, but I like to think. I like to compare, test and hypothesize. In the words of your Bible, I like to “test all things, hold fast to what is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) This one stumps me. What possibly could have changed that would require God to eliminate females from wearing God in the church age? Was there a change of vanity introduced by justification by grace?

    Be that as it may, since you are a moral realist, and hold that morality is vested in “obey God” I assume that you are a strong advocate against females wearing gold.

    But wait a minute. Because of the society and environment you have been brought up in, your inner “ought” alarms go off, and you become skeptical. You start to exegete and extrapolate this as starting off with Paul saying “I desire..” meaning it came from Paul and not God. Apparently “inspiration” is not all it is cracked up to be. Or you will start claiming it was based on a premise, or the society of the time, or some other reason that “obey God” by following inspired scriptures no longer applies to women wearing gold.

    Bingo. You just entered my world. If you even begin to start to argue that, simply because your “ought” says wearing gold on females is now acceptable, you have begun to question when to “obey God” and when not to. Could the Canaanites “ought” have also kicked in, and they think about eating rabbits? Could Adam & Eve’s “ought” kicked in, and they think about eating fruit? By arguing against wearing gold, even to begin, shows that somewhere over mechanical obeying of God’s law, there is some “greater morality” which you are allowed to adhere to.

    Could Adam & Eve followed that “greater morality”? If God could eat the fruit, could they?

    There’s more…

    Imitators of God Where did I state that we must imitate God in everything? Do I demand that you also do miracles? (Whoops. Bad analogy. God does sorta demand that, doesn’t He? Mark 16:17-18. I’ll try another.) Did I state that we must also create worlds? (Better.) No. But if you look at the verses I indicated, every single one is talking about copying God’s morality. Not God’s specific actions or capabilities.


    You said it yourself, First, parents typically do (or should) tell their children to immitate them. That's the whole purpose behind being a role model. Parents should be the kind of people they hope their children will grow up to be, because children inevitably pick up their parent's habits anyway. Parents ought to be upstanding people and then tell their children to follow their example. Exactly! That was my point. (Apparently I am REALLY unclear!) We should be imitating God as a role model. If God can eat fruit, we can eat fruit. If God can commit genocide, we can commit genocide. If God finds gold, silver and virgin females more important than baby boys, widows and cattle, we should as well.

    But you are saying the exact opposite. God can eat fruit, but we shouldn’t imitate that because he says otherwise. God can commit genocide, but we can’t because…..well, I guess because your “ought” says you should be skeptical of it.

    If you heard a person say, “I hope my child does not live by the morals that I live by,” you would question the viability of that person’s morals. Yet this is exactly what you say God is doing.

    Now, look at the one verse you picked. 1 Cor. 11:1. Are you really arguing that when Paul says, “Imitate me” he meant everyone was to become a tentmaker? If I made that claim, as an atheist, that is what Paul meant, I would hear an outcry from the Christian community that I am mis-applying scripture. You can give me more credit than that. I agree, that common sense says Paul was talking about morality. Imitate Christ. Paul was not saying, “when Christ had to pay his taxes, he got it from a fish, you do the same.”

    The verses before, Paul is listing moral actions, the verses after he is as well. (Might want to read 1 Cor. 10. Good stuff. “All things are lawful for me…” “Why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?” But this is long and getting longer. Sigh. Another time.)

    Let’s see how we are to imitate Christ, shall we? 1 Cor. 11:5-19 requires a woman praying or prophesying to have her head covered. (Possibly by long hair.) I assume, again, as a moral realist, you hold that to “obey God” you mandate that a woman must have a hat or long hair. A man, of course, cannot have long hair. Now what does your “common sense” say? What does your “conscience” say? How many inspired commands of God can you eliminate?

    I didn’t respond to “mistakes in reasoning” because I can’t tell, in your system, when I can reason or not. Makes no sense to me that I couldn’t eat rabbits, but you tell me to not reason, “obey God.” Makes no sense to me to commit genocide, now I am told to reason. Makes no sense to me that women can’t wear gold, but now I am told to reason. Makes no sense to me that God can eat fruit and I can’t, but now I am told to not reason.

    You mention we should test revelation, and that the Bible gives us ways to determine “true prophets” and “false prophets.” It goes one better, it tells us how to tell “true believers.” Mark 16 again. A “true believer” will cast out demons, drink poison and live, heal the sick by laying on of hands, speak tongues and hold snakes.

    Sam, are you a true believer? Have you done all of these thinks? Or is this another one of those areas, all of a sudden I have to use reason?

    Simple statement: When a moral realist demonstrates that they believe “obey God,” then, and only then, will I start to examine the question. As long as they pragmatically use “reason” and “conscience” and “ought” to rationalize away what God clearly states, I reserve the right to do so as well.

    God and Character I wish we were in person, so I could draw this out. I hope you have a good mental-image up and going.

    I say, “God is bound by God.” Which is a meaningless statement, allowing God to do what He wants, and is not bound in any way. You reply, “God is bound by His Character” meaning that God’s character must be different, in some way, than God Himself.

    Venn Diagrams. The ones with the circles. We have one circle with “God.” One circle with “God’s Character.” When I asked, initially, whether God’s character was a subset of God, I was asking where these two circles interest, if at all.

    Is God’s Character a completely different, non-intersecting circle with God? If so, then God is no longer the supreme, solely necessary being in the universe, God’s Character is. And, since you have confirmed that Evil is necessary for God’s glory, and God’s glory is the ultimate good, Therefore “evil,” “ultimate good,” “God’s glory” and “God’s character” is synonymous. I doubt you feel that.

    If God’s character intersects but is not a subset of God that would mean there are elements of God’s character that are not elements of God. What are those, perchance? And would we find evil being a necessity for God’s glory in God, God’s character or both?

    Finally, God’s character could be a subset of God. (I don’t see how God could be a subset of His own character. He is less than His character? How would that work?) I think the easiest Venn diagram is a big circle of God, with a smaller circle of “God’s Character” within it.

    With me so far? Now we need to add a dot in this diagram. Whatever it is that causes God to be “bound.” I will call it “bound.” I see three spots for our dot:

    1) Outside the diagram itself,
    2) Inside “God” but outside “God’s character”
    3) Inside “God’s character” (and therefore also inside “God.”)

    If No. 1, then God is not bound, and I do not think you agree with that, so we shall set it aside.
    If No. 2, then God is bound to follow His Character. But since “bound” is NOT in the God’s Character, then God’s Character is NOT Bound. Think of it this way, if God’s Character has the propensity to be “bound” then our “bounding” point must be inside God’s Character. By placing it outside, then God’s Character may never include the propensity to be “bound.” This creates a God that must be “bound” by a Character that is not.

    Finally, No. 3 means God is “bound” to be God. This makes all of the following statements true:

    1) God is bound by God.
    2) God is bound by God’s Character.
    3) God’s Character is bound by God’s Character.
    4) God’s Character is bound by God.

    Making “God” and “God’s Character” synonymous. Thus, again, rendering the statement, “God is bound by God” which means God can do whatever he wants to do. Up to and including arbitrary commands, thus eliminating moral realism.

    The only way in which your statement, “God is bound by His Character” can have significance is to place “binding” inside “God” but outside “God’s Character.” This makes God bound to something that is not bound to anything. That means God must follow His own Character, but His Character need not follow anything.

    That is what I meant by absolute morals bound in an arbitrary reality.

    Imagine it in this fashion. We have a set group of numbers, say every third number. In an absolute sense, we must always, always, always pick the third number. In another set of numbers, we have a completely arbitrary set of numbers. We can get anything.

    We count, “1, 2, 3…” and are absolutely bound to pick a number. But that number is arbitrary, we will generate an arbitrary number. “4, 5, 6…” Another mandated pick. Another arbitrary number. And so on. God is mandated to be bound by something that is not. Thus, generating an unbound result.

    For your phrase to explain anything, you need to define “God’s Character” and how, specifically it differentiates from “God” and whether it is a subset of God. And where is God’s lack of free will found?

    While I appreciate you do not think God can lie to us, when you can’t even tell us what the “something” is that makes rabbits O.K. to eat, but gold bad to wear, it is hard to take this claim seriously. If God is the highest being in the universe, then He can lie, it just wouldn’t be immoral. For Him. Of course, according to this theory, He can dictate to us whatever He wants, because what is Moral to Him may or may not be immoral for us. And you cannot conceptualize anything God doing as being immoral.

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